Today's post is inspired by a series of small events: a friend's post, my Tanzanian sister, and a phone call.
My blogging friend, Kim, recently told the story how two nuns in a nursing home gave her mother a special Christmas present: a box of individually wrapped apples that they had saved from their own lunch trays over a period of weeks. Later, when her mother took them out to lunch, a kind stranger payed their bill.
Speechless? It's that lump in your throat.
This got me thinking about our very own Sister Gaudiosa, a nun from Tanzania who spent part of the last two summers with us. Through her we have a few nun stories of our own.
Sister told us that on her very first flight over from Tanzania she had to change planes in Germany, and in the process of walking to her new gate she came across her first escalator . . . ever.
She was terrified. She stood to the side, studying it. She approached it, lost her nerve, and backed away again. She didn't know what to do.
Then she heard, "Sister? Do you need help?"
It was a German student, male, in his mid-twenties. When he realized what the problem was, he picked up her bag and took her by the arm.
"Not to worry, Sister. I will help you." And he did. All the way down the escalator, all the way to her gate.
Just this past summer we drove Sister to the airport after her stay with us. Because she was changing schools from New Jersey to Missouri, she had two very heavy suitcases.
When we were helping her check in, the agent said that both suitcases were overweight and she would have to pay extra . . . and it was a pretty hefty fine.
I looked at the agent and said, "Everything she owns in this world is in these two suitcases."
And I knew what I was talking about because I had helped her pack them: habits made from thick, blue material and her shoes. That's about it.
The agent didn't say anything, and my husband got out his wallet to pay the fine.
Except there wasn't one. When the agent took the suitcases he said, "Don't worry, I'll take care of it. Have a safe flight, Sister." And he smiled.
Then, two days ago I received a phone call from Fr. Fortunatus, a Tanzanian priest who has been in our diocese for two years raising money for a school/orphanage in his home diocese in Tanzania. He is the one who brought Sister to us.
He called from the Atlanta airport to personally tell me goodbye one last time before returning to his country. He wanted to thank my husband and me for all that we had done.
Well, really, we have done nothing. We had him over for dinner a few times, and I got the school's PTO to donate some money, but I know I could have done so much more.
His call humbled me because it is him, and Sister Gaudiosa, and others like them who are on the front lines fighting poverty, ignorance, and HIV. They are the ones working to make this world a better place.
They are the ones that need to be thanked.